HCMC Dining Guide

Sunday, August 12, 2012


My Vietnamese lessons are progressing somewhat well, and learning certain vocabulary in the language can be pretty entertaining. Perhaps the most humorous words are those given to technology invented by the West and imported to Vietnam in the last few decades. Many machines have been given definitions that describe exactly what they do. Máy = machine

máy chụp hình - picture taking machine (camera)

máy lạnh - cold machine (air conditioner)

máy bay - flying machine (airplane)

máy bay lên thẳng - upward flying machine (helicopter)

máy hút bụi - dust sucking machine (vacuum)

máy vi tính  - calculation machine (computer)

Some words also mean exactly the same thing in Vietnamese as they do in English.

máy giặt - washing machine

Others are simply taken from English and Vietnamese-ized.

máy ra-đi-ô - radio

cà-rốt - carrot

vốt-ca - vodka

Expect similar posts in the future as I pick up more vocabulary.


  1. Good job Michael, I'm impress. Vietnamese language is very hard to learn because of all the "symbols" ( I don't know what is the right word to describe the mark on top or on the bottom of the letters). For example, with the same spelling and a different "mark" the word has totally different meaning.

    Such as:

    Mây is cloud
    Máy is machine
    Mày is informal you

    And many more words like that. But you know what I find English, French, and Spanish languages have their owns difficulty as well. Oh well, that is why learning another language is interesting and also challenging for me.

    For your situation, you are currently living in Vietnam, so you would have plenty of opportunities to practice the Vienamese language with the locals especially your former landlady. How do you say crazy in that language?

    By the way, from your room on the 24th floor, with the window close, can you still hear all the sounds from the street?

    Thanks in advance for your answer.


  2. I think they're called diacritical marks. They do make the language really hard, it's tough to remember which marks go where in which word. I'm glad I grew up speaking English, because I don't think I could've learned it otherwise - the grammar is ridiculously difficult.

    Haven't learned how to say 'crazy' yet, haha. It's true that there are a lot of opportunities to practice here, but the frustrating thing is that many locals don't have any patience when it comes to listening to people who are learning the language. For the most part, if they don't understand the first word out of your mouth then they don't even try to get the rest. Annoying!

    I can't hear much in my apartment with the windows closed. The occasional horn or siren, but that's it. Though there was a funeral in the neighborhood the other night and I could hear the music from it for hours. The main sound I hear up here is the wind.

  3. I think it's a force of habit. The local aren't used to seeing strangers learning their language. It's almost the same within the Vietnamese community over here. The older generation wants the younger ones to preserve the language. Yet, when we're a little bit off, well, let the endless hounding begin.

    The good thing about the Vietnamese language: barely any tenses. If you are able to pronounce it somewhat, you'll be able to write it down albeit, with a lot of spelling errors and people laughing but still, you can at least write something.

    The most annoying thing: Personal pronouns are the devil. Depending on who you''re talking to, it seems like there are countless ways to say you and I.

    Well, good luck on your studies. And my suggestion is, try talking to kids. They're probably more enthusiastic. Also, picture books are extremely helpful. :)

    1. That's true about tenses, it is far easier than English in that sense. The hardest thing about writing is remembering which marks go where in which word, but I guess that just takes practice.

      I'm in agreement on personal pronouns as well - em, anh, chi, ba, ong, the ones for children, etc. Troi oi!

  4. People use "máy bay trực thăng" for helicopter more